Everyone is using the hostage metaphor these days regarding the debt ceiling. Barack Obama started it back in December when he called the GOP hostage takers before the GOP gave him everything he wanted.Well, I hope the GOP noticed Barack Obama yesterday upped the ante and declared his willingness to shoot his hostages, i.e. senior citizens. Yes, if the GOP dares to hold the line on spending cuts, Barack Obama will balk, the debt limit will not be raised, and Obama will refuse to pay senior citizens.Jim Pethokoukis notes a Goldman Sachs report showing there will be plenty of money flowing into the treasury in August for the government to pay its debt obligations, pay social security obligations, pay military obligations, and avoid default. But Obama won’t let facts stand in the way of starving senior citizens to score political points against the GOP.Of course, it is not just Obama willing to score political points. Mitch McConnell wants to give Barack Obama the right to automatically raise the debt ceiling. The only caveat is McConnell wants everyone to know it’ll be Obama who does it, not the GOP. Just how bad is McConnell’s plan? After David Hauptmann, a staffer in McConnell’s office, sent out an email linking to a National Review Online column that said Grover Norquist “supported” Mitch McConnell’s capitulation, Americans for Tax Reform rapidly sent out a press release saying Norquist did not support the plan, just “the goals.” They also asked NRO to clarify.Undeterred, McConnell enlisted the support of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, which came out swinging not just in favor of McConnell’s plan, but also pretty directly against me. I can console myself that they also supported McConnell’s push for TARP.The Journal’s editorial opines
The hotter precincts of the blogosphere were calling this a sellout yesterday, though they might want to think before they shout. The debt ceiling is going to be increased one way or another, and the only question has been what if anything Republicans could get in return.
As I first out of the gate and drew the most ire from McConnell supporters, I think it is safe to conclude they are unhappy with me. Nonetheless, let’s move beyond the rather snotty “we are the adults and the rest of you are unwashed ignorant masses” tone of the editorial and get right to what they actually say.They might not like my use of the word “sellout,” but McConnell’s plan is exactly what Barack Obama wants. He’ll get to raise the debt ceiling with no obligations to do anything else, except conduct a dog and pony show.I have written repeated — not that the crack editorialists care — that the debt ceiling is going to go up. I have also written that, however admirable the opposition to any increase is, it is not realistic.I have then gone on to say that the GOP must hold the line on their cut, cap, and balance plan.The Wall Street Journal’s editorial goes on to note this:
The tea party/talk-radio expectations for what Republicans can accomplish over the debt-limit showdown have always been unrealistic. As former Senator Phil Gramm once told us, never take a hostage you’re not prepared to shoot. Republicans aren’t prepared to stop a debt-limit increase because the political costs are unbearable. Republicans might have played this game better, but the truth is that Mr. Obama has more cards to play
The President today signaled his willingness to shoot the hostage. The GOP should do the same — show an absolute unwillingness to raise the debt ceiling without their balanced budget amendment passing out of Congress to the states.Again and again, Congress folds to the doomsday scenarios. The Wall Street Journal again and again claims the sky will fall and the markets will crash. The suits come down from New York and paint the disaster scenario. The GOP falls in line. TARP is passed. What else will be passed?This time, the GOP should embrace the apocalyptic future, call B.S. on the fear mongering, and shoot their debt ceiling hostage. if they engage in politics as usual as the Wall Street Journal and Mitch McConnell would have them, we’ll be back in this mess again next year.Politics as usual usually gets us here. If we want to move back to fiscal sanity, we need to try a different approach.